“Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” (Proverbs 31:29)
I’ve put this off as long as I could. In November 1985, I met you face to face for the first time and you completely stole my heart. I told you on the day you were born that I would not even allow you to DATE a boy until you were 30 years old — and in just a few days, you are actually going to get MARRIED!
I don’t even know where to begin. From the first time I saw you, I knew I had the poster child for strong-willed children. From day one you have always told me exactly what you thought regardless of whether I wanted to hear it or not. I am so thankful to God for that relationship with you. Today, it’s my turn to tell you a few things.
I ALWAYS wanted a little girl. From the minute your momma told me she was pregnant, I declared that you were a girl. It’s not that I didn’t want a son, I had just always wanted to have a little girl who would grow up to be a true Daddy’s Girl. I got just that. You know the stories. You and I went everywhere together. Your momma was working shift work after you were born and often I would go to seminary and come home, kiss your momma as she walked out the door for her 3-11 shift and it was just you and me for the rest of the night.
Before you were six months old I had you listening to Woody Durham as he called Carolina basketball games and we cheered on the Tar Heels. We watched Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and ALF. I have preached on several occasions while holding you on my hip. You grew up the first few years believing that when people came to church, they were actually coming to see YOU!
I vividly remember the day I took you to school for the first time. You walked right in, met your teacher and you were happy as a lark. I on the other hand, sat on the steps of the school and cried because you were growing up way too fast. And time has only sped up since that day. I still see you standing on a piano stool and announcing to me and your momma that you were Miss America!
Dustin has grown up confused because he believed he had two mommas. When Dustin came along, you acted like he belonged to you. He didn’t talk until he was 3 years old because he didn’t need to! You would say, “Dustin wants such and such.” I would say, “How do you know that Danielle?” “He told me,” you would say. I’d look at Dustin and he just looked at me like “I don’t understand it either — but it works!”
Early on I think you wanted to say “My Daddy,” but you had a little trouble and it came out “Moddy.” For years that’s what you called me. When you got in the 2nd or 3rd grade, you thought it was a little embarrassing to call me that, so you called me “Diddy.” But to this day, if you get scared or nervous, I hear you slip up and call for “Moddy.” That always warms my heart.
We’ve walked through some wonderful times and some that were not so wonderful but through it all, I have done my very best to assure you that, in me, you always have an ally. From softball to volleyball and chorus, I have always tried to be there to cheer you on.
Now…on Saturday they are going to ask me “Who gives this woman to be married to this man” and I’m supposed to say “Her mother and I.” I’m having a really hard time with that. Don’t be surprised if I say “Her mother” and then under my breath I barely say “and I.” I know that is God’s plan and I know I have done exactly what He expected me to do in raising you to be a Godly woman and wife, but every time I think about having to say those words, a lump comes in my throat and my eyes sweat and my heart hurts.
In my mind, I have apologized a thousand times the last few weeks to Granddaddy Galloway for taking your momma away from him. I didn’t realize that having your daughter grow up and get married was so hard. I watched Popple as he had to give Brenda away he told me how hard it was — I didn’t fully understand that until now.
Everybody keeps telling me that I’m not losing a daughter, I’m gaining a son. I’m happy for you and Nate and I love Nate. Since he’s going to be my son, do you think he might be satisfied just to be your brother rather than your husband? I could live with that. In reality, I guess that’s not an option for us, is it?
There is not a father in the world who could be more proud of their daughter than I am of you. God truly smiled down on me and your momma when He sent you to us. Nate is the luckiest man in the world — and I promise you I will never let him forget that! Being married is going to be wonderful for you and Nate. I wouldn’t trade one minute of my life with your momma for anything in the world. I pray that we have modeled for you and Nate what it means to have a happy and healthy marriage. I promise we will always be here for both of you to help you as your grow in your love for one another and for God.
I’m wrapping up everything here in East Tennessee and I’ll get in the car tomorrow morning and head over the mountains to begin the celebration. I’m going to laugh and joke and do all the things I’m supposed to do. I’m even going to try not to cry at the ceremony — but I ain’t making no promises! Deep down in my heart, I’m going to struggle. I’m turning over the care for the most precious person in my life to another man. I pray he will always love you as Christ loves the church. I pray he will take care of you the way you deserve. And…I pray that one day…he has a daughter…just like you…and he gets to feel the joy and pride that I feel when I look at you. And when it comes time for her to get married, I pray I’m still around to look him in the eye and say, “Nate…I’ve been praying for this day. Now you truly understand what it means to be a father of a little girl.”
Congratulations Prissy. I love you more than a fat kid loves cake. Other than your momma — you are the number one woman in my life and you always will be. I’ll always be just a phone call away, but now I’ll step to the side and make way for a new man to travel with you. It’s going to be a wonderful journey for the both of you. I’m proud of you. I love you. I’ll ALWAYS be here for you whenever you need me.